WDW Odds & Ends: 2012 Year End Edition, Part One

December 30, 2012

As the New Year looms it seems that most blogs, websites, etc have to have some sort of year-in-review post, and being the Internet Lemming that I am, I will follow suit… so here are some random things from this this past year around the World – many, of course, food & drink related.2012-Disney-pin-1

Let’s hop into our TARDIS and go way back in time – all the way to January of 2012…

runDisney Event Medals

runDisney Event Medals

The first big event of the year at the Walt Disney World Resort is Marathon Weekend: thousands of runners, joggers, walkers and assorted hangers-on swamp the World to take part in the athletic endeavors that wind their way through property over the long weekend.

Disney Marathon Weekend Packet Pickup

Disney Marathon Weekend Packet Pickup

One of the first stops for the participants is at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex to pickup their bibs and other race paraphernalia and to browse and shop at the race expo.

The best booth at the race expo!

The best booth at the race expo!

And in case the runners need sustenance to make it up and down the crowded aisles of the expo, one can avail themselves of some fresh fruit, an energy drink, or, thank goodness, a glass of bubbly or a beer!

Marathon Weekend Cupcakes

Marathon Weekend Cupcakes

The Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom was in the Marathon Mood during the weekend with some specially decorated cupcakes… can you say Carb-Loading?

Lots of things were going on in the brief month of February…

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Banner

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Banner above the Firehouse on Main Street

The new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game was now in full swing in (of course) the Magic Kingdom.

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Training Session

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Training Session

Valentine’s is always a busy time at the World (what’s more romantic than a cozy ride for two through the Haunted Mansion?).

Wild Caught Jumbo Prawn and Crab "Hot-Pot" at Artist Point

Wild Caught Jumbo Prawn and Crab “Hot-Pot” at Artist Point

Miss Bonnie and I shared a nice dinner at Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

House-made Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Artist Point

House-made Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Artist Point

Another popular runDisney event. the Princess Half-Marathon, is held the end of February.

Princess Half-Marathon Snack Box and Medal

Princess Half-Marathon Snack Box and Medal

After the race instead of the usual “grab-a-bannana-and-a-bagel” line at most running events, the finishing Princesses (and Princes) were handed a nice little box of post-race refueling items.

Also that month there was a debut at the Kidani Village:

Makemba the Okapi at Kidani Village

Makemba the Okapi at Kidani Village

Makemba (an African name for “Goddess”) is a female Okapi calf that was born on October 1 of 2011 and was just making her first forays into public view for limited times at Kidani Village.

Makemba with mama Zoe keeping a watch nearby

Makemba with mama Zoe keeping a watch nearby

The rare and reclusive Okapi are kept on Pembe Savannah at the resort – this is the smaller savannah near the pool area. Even if you aren’t staying at the resort you can always stop by and try to catch a glimpse of these gorgeous creatures.

Construction at Tutto Gusto in Italy pavilion

Construction at Tutto Gusto in Italy pavilion

In Epcot’s World Showcase the refurbishment in Italy continued as we eagerly kept checks on the soon to open wine bar…

Temporary food kiosk in Italy

Temporary food kiosk in Italy

A kiosk was set up on the promenade to help service guests Italian food needs while Tutto Italia was closed.

Fancy-dancy restrooms at the new Storybook Circus train stop

Fancy-dancy restrooms at the new Storybook Circus train stop

March saw the first part of the New Fantasyland expansion debut – sections of the Storybook Circus area, including the refurbished train stop (and perhaps the nicest restrooms in the Magic Kingdom!) were opened to the public.

The Great Goofini's Ill-fated Rocket Flight

The Great Goofini’s Ill-fated Rocket Flight

DSCF8148

Also in March I had the opportunity to attend the Food Blog Forum event that was held on WDW property for the first time this year.

Food Blog Forum opening reception at the Grand Floridian

Food Blog Forum opening reception at the Grand Floridian

"Hanging" Salads at the Food Blog Forum opening reception at the Grand Floridian Walt Disney World

“Hanging” Salads at the Food Blog Forum opening reception

In addition to a day of great seminars and the opportunity to meet many food bloggers from all over the country (as well as re-connect with friends made before), the attendees got a couple of chances to see how the Disney chefs can really strut their stuff when given the chance! An opening reception was held the evening before the seminars at a lovely outside venue at the Grand Floridian resort.

Food Blog Forum lunch in the Millennium Village in Epcot Walt Disney World

Food Blog Forum lunch in the Millennium Village in Epcot

Lunch on the seminar day was held in the Millennium Village in Epcot. Chefs from restaurants around property served a huge variety of great dishes that emphasized the healthier side of dining while still keeping the taste and style high.

Spreads and Dips from Sanaa at the  Food Blog Forum lunch

Spreads and Dips from Sanaa at the Food Blog Forum lunch

The sign says it all... I ate two of these without getting a good picture!

The sign says it all… I ate two of these without getting a good picture!

High-tech Soda making!

High-tech Soda making!

The Kitchen meets the Laboratory

The Kitchen meets the Laboratory

Chocolate Ravioli in Cognac at Food Blog Forum lunch

Chocolate Ravioli in Cognac at Food Blog Forum lunch

March also saw the opening of the 2012 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.

Cheers to the Flower & Garden Festival!

Cheers to the Flower & Garden Festival!

Haiti area at Flower & Garden Festival

Haiti area at Flower & Garden Festival

This year’s festival featured an area devoted to Haiti.

Haiti Refreshment Kiosk

Haiti Refreshment Kiosk

And yes, there were cocktails!

Haiti Refreshments Menu

Haiti Refreshments Menu

April saw the continuation of the Flower & Garden Festival…

Dragon in China pavilion

Dragon in China pavilion

Bonsai in Japan pavilion

Bonsai in Japan pavilion

Construction walls in Italy

Construction walls in Italy

and the continued construction at the restaurant in Italy.

New signage up behind the construction walls

New signage up behind the construction walls

But the new signs were up and the refurb seemed near to an end!

While impatiently waiting for the wine bar in Italy to open, we took advantage of the Wine Walk in Epcot and sampled several wines in three countries.

Sampling wines in France...

Sampling wines in France…

Italy...

Italy…

and Germany

and Germany

The Wine Walk is available all year and makes a fun (and relatively economical) way to sample several varietals as you make your way around the World Showcase.

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

And of course the best way to end any day at Epcot (regardless of the time of year) is with a viewing of Illuminations!

 Illuminations finale

Illuminations finale

Over at the Magic Kingdom an old friend returned…

Poster at the Magic Kingdom

Poster at the Magic Kingdom

The Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland re-opened after a bit of a refurbishment…

Sunshine Tree Terrace

Sunshine Tree Terrace

and along with it came the return of the Orange Bird character to the park.

"Little Orange Bird..."

“Little Orange Bird…”

And at the very end of April in Epcot…

Italy sans construction walls!

Italy sans construction walls!

the walls were down in Italy!

Almost open...

Almost open… but not quite

But staff posted outside (along with signage) informed guests that the restaurant and adjacent wine bar weren’t quite ready to open to the public.

Sign outside Tutto Italia

Sign outside Tutto Italia

Which brings us to the merry month of May….

Italy at night...

Italy at night…

The first weekend of the month we got to stick out heads into the much-anticipated wine bar (you can see some pics from that visit in the WDW Odds & Ends post from May 24, 2012)…

Tutto Gusto entrance

Tutto Gusto entrance

but it would still be a while before we got to eat and drink there… we’ll get to that later…

The first weekend of May also included Cinco de Mayo…

Inside the Mexico pyramid...

Inside the Mexico pyramid…

and not surprisingly the lines were long at La Cava del Tequila in Mexico.

Why yes, I'll have a cocktail...

Why yes, I’ll have a cocktail…

That weekend was also the weekend that the Flower & Garden Festival was highlighting the “Fresh from Florida” agriculture in the Festival Center (aka the Wonders of Life Pavilion). With the “Real Job” coming under the umbrella of Florida agriculture, and our company hosting a display at the Festival Center that weekend, Miss Bonnie and I were invited to a small private function “after hours” upstairs in the Festival Center and once again, I got to see the Disney chefs stretch themselves (and we also found out how easy it would be to wander around backstage fairly unnoticed if one wished to do so… but that’s perhaps another post for another day…).

Peanut Crusted Beef Skewers

Peanut Crusted Beef Skewers

They tailored the food items to represent several of the groups and companies that were displaying during that weekend: a peanut farm (who knew we raised peanuts in Florida?); kumquat farmers; a couple of ornamental aquaculture suppliers; and of course strawberry farmers .

Panna Cotta with Kumquat Jam

Panna Cotta with Kumquat Jam

Koi Colored Chocolate Drops with Sugar Coral

Koi Colored Chocolate Drops with Sugar Coral (this was incredibly impressive from both an aesthetic and taste perspective)

Strawberries and Cream

Strawberries and Cream

As we exited the event and took the tiny elevator down to the first floor, Bonnie & I (like the true Disney-nerds we are) took the chance to nose around a little in the closed building and found a fun room…

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

"Carnival" room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

“Carnival” room in the Epcot Wonders of Life Pavilion

This is the room that became the Chase Lounge at this year’s Food and Wine Festival, so sadly it no longer exists in the cool decor we saw… but we were excited to see it and I’m glad to be able to share these pictures with my Dear Dedicated Readers.

There is another “Carousel” room upstairs (see the post at Zannaland about this room) that Bonnie and I got to see after the Food and Wine Festival Preview last year – hopefully the decor in that room will stay around for a while!

And yes, there was yet another runDisney event that weekend – the Expedition Everest Challenge – Miss Bonnie and I declined to run in that event, but we did volunteer and had a great amount of fun helping runners out with the scavenger hunt clues!

Flower Power Concert Poster

Flower Power Concert Poster

A couple of weeks later we once again made our way to Epcot for the final weekend of the Flower & Garden Festival. I specifically wanted to see the performance of Micky Dolenz who was taking the place of the late Davy Jones. It was a fun, nostalgic, and at times emotional show as Micky talked about his friend and band-mate who had just passed away in February.

Mickey Dolenz

Micky Dolenz

After the concert we finally got the chance to have a nosh at Tutto Gusto…

Polenta Funghu e Fontina at Tutto Gusto

Polenta Funghu e Fontina at Tutto Gusto

and Miss Bonnie quickly fell in love with the place! For more details on the eats we had there (and lots of other eats from that weekend as well!) check out the WDW Weekend Eats post dated June 1, 2012.

Star Wars Weekends stage in front of the "Hat"

Star Wars Weekends stage in front of the “Hat”

Another popular event opened up that weekend: Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

R2D2 filled with Churros

R2D2 filled with Churros

And yes, there was food there as well!

Lord Vader turns out to be a sweetie...

Lord Vader turns out to be a sweetie…

The June fun started in Animal Kingdom…

Safari Guide Tip Board at Animal Kingdom

Safari Guide Tip Board at Animal Kingdom

with the Sundowner Celebration.

There was food…

Indian Wine

Indian Wine

beverages…

Bollywood, baby!

Bollywood, baby!

and dancing!

Even though they could have made more of it, it was a fun event – you can see more in the post Sundowner Celebration: A First Look.

"Brave" Billboard in Hollywood Studios

“Brave” Billboard in Hollywood Studios

The publicity machine for the soon-to-open film “Brave” was in full motion with huge billboards in the Studios…

"Brave" Billboard in Hollywood Studios

“Brave” Billboard in Hollywood Studios

a Merida meet-and-greet in the Magic Kingdom…

Merida

Merida

and the Highland Games going on in Epcot.

Highland Games Banner in Epcot

Highland Games Banner in Epcot

You usually don't get to chose your family!

You usually don’t get to chose your family!

"Brave" Sand Sculpture in Epcot

“Brave” Sand Sculpture in Epcot

And already merchandise galore…

Just a small sample of the Merida/Brave merchandise available even before the movie hit the big screen

Just a small sample of the Merida/Brave merchandise available even before the movie hit the big screen

Another part of the Storybook Circus opened up in June…

with the very well-themed and very wet Casey Junior Splash ‘n’ Soak Station in the Magic Kingdom.

I dare you to stay dry!

I dare you to stay dry!

While nearby the seemingly ever-present construction walls could hardly hide the advancing work going on for the New Fantasyland expansion.

Construction wall in Fantasyland

Construction wall in Fantasyland

The middle of the month found the Harem at Animal Kingdom for another run at the Sundowner Celebration.

Cheers from the Wine Walk!

Cheers from the Wine Walk!

Who's having more fun that This Guy?

Who’s having more fun that This Guy?

Spring Roll Making Demonstration

Spring Roll Making Demonstration

Miss Bonnie explaining the virtues of Rice Paper to Mama Ginny...

Miss Bonnie explaining the virtues of Rice Paper to Mama Ginny…

Mama Ginny doesn't look so sure...

Mama Ginny doesn’t look so sure…

There were also things goings on over at Epcot…

Sign up!

Sign up!

We got to play-test the new Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure which replaced the Kim Possible Adventure.

Goodbye Kim, hello Perry

Goodbye Kim, hello Perry

Inside Mexico most of the entrance area had been cleared out…

Inside the pyramid...

Inside the pyramid again…

to make way for a new exhibit.

Coming soon to a pyramid near you...

Coming soon to a pyramid near you…

And down in La Cava…

Looks good to me!

Looks good to me!

they had introduced a new high-end tequila flight!

What a name for a drink!

What a name for a drink!

And I finally got a chance to try a new beverage at the Joy of Tea kiosk in China.

And what a drink it was! Two Quacks up!

And what a drink it was! Two Quacks up!

Towards the end of June Miss Bonnie and I got our first look at the Art of Animation resort.

Art of Animation Resort exterior

Art of Animation Resort exterior (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Light fixture in the entrance way of the Art of Animation Resort (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Light fixture in the entrance way of the Art of Animation Resort (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Part of the main pool area at the Art of Animation Resort

Part of the main pool area at the Art of Animation Resort

Radiator Springs section of the Art of Animation Resort (photo by Miss Bonnie)

Radiator Springs section of the Art of Animation Resort (photo by Miss Bonnie)

And to end up the month we stepped outside the World…

  and onto the Disney Dream…

Dream a little dream...

Dream a little dream…

You can check out a few food & drink pics from that trip in the post “Life could be a Dream…”

Wow… it was quite a busy first half of the year! And since the second half wasn’t much less busy, let’s take a break for a cocktail… or two… or three…

So much for a short little post with some odds & ends…

See you soon for part two! Happy New Year!

Off to the bar…

2 Responses to “WDW Odds & Ends: 2012 Year End Edition, Part One”


  1. […] At Eating (and Drinking) around the World, Andy gives us part one of his year end round up. […]

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  2. […] you neglected to spend your spare time reading around the New Year, you can go back now and peruse WDW Odds & Ends: 2012 Year End Edition, Part One, we’ll wait for you here while you do […]

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